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Summit set, detainees free; Trump sees North Korea as ‘big success’

  • President Donald Trump, accompanied by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, back, shakes hands with former North Korean detainees Kim Dong Chul, with Kim Hak Song, upon their arrival, Thursday, May 10, 2018, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Alex Brandon

  • President Donald Trump, accompanied by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, back, waves at the media and others upon arrival of former North Korean detainees Tony Kim, left, Kim Dong Chul and Kim Hak Song, unseen, Thursday, May 10, 2018, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Alex Brandon

  • In this Monday, Sept. 11, 2006, file photo, a Gurkha police officer stands guard outside the venue of the IMF-World Bank meetings in Singapore. U.S. President Donald Trump will meet with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on upcoming June 12, Trump announced in a Tweet Thursday May 10, 2018. "We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!" Trump said in a tweet.(AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File) WONG MAYE-E

  • President Donald Trump boards Air Force One, Thursday, May 10, 2018, in Andrews Air Force Base, Md., en route to Elkhart, Ind., for a campaign rally. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) Carolyn Kaster

  • In this Friday, June 3, 2011, file photo, Gurkha police stand guard at the venue of a security summit held in Singapore. Singapore has a secure venue for high level talks. U.S. President Donald Trump will meet with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on upcoming June 12, Trump announced in a Tweet Thursday May 10, 2018. "We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!" Trump said in a tweet. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File) Wong Maye-E

  • In this Wednesday, May 9, 2018, photo provided on Thursday, May 10, 2018, by the North Korean government, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, poses with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for a photo during a meeting at the Workers' Party of Korea headquarters in Pyongyang, North Korea. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: "KCNA" which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP) 朝鮮通信社

  • FILE - This combination of two file photos shows U.S. President Donald Trump, left, speaking during a roundtable discussion on tax cuts in Cleveland, Ohio, May 5, 2018 and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, talking with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Panmunjom, South Korea, April 27, 2018. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in North Korea on Wednesday, May 9, 2018, to finalize details of a planned summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, Korea Summit Press Pool via AP, File) Manuel Balce Ceneta

  • The signage of the Embassy of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is seen at the entrance of a building, in Singapore, Thursday, May 10, 2018. U.S. President Donald Trump will meet with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on upcoming June 12, Trump announced in a Tweet Thursday May 10, 2018. "We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!" Trump said in a tweet. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E) Wong Maye-E



Associated Press
Thursday, May 10, 2018

Envisioning “a very special moment for world peace,” President Donald Trump announced Thursday he will meet North Korea’s Kim Jong Un for highly anticipated summit talks in Singapore on June 12. He set the stage for his announcement by hosting a 3 a.m., made-for-TV welcome home for three Americans held by Kim’s government.

“We welcomed them back home the proper way,” Trump told supporters at a campaign rally in Indiana Thursday evening.

Final details in place, Trump and Kim agreed to the first face-to-face North Korea-U.S. summit since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. It’s the most consequential and perhaps riskiest foreign policy effort so far in Trump’s presidency as North Korea’s nuclear program approaches a treacherous milestone – the capacity to strike the continental U.S. with a thermonuclear warhead.

Trump says the U.S. is aiming for “denuclearization” of the entire Korean peninsula, but he has yet to fill in just what steps that might include and what the timing would be.

“We’re starting off on a new footing,” Trump said of himself and Kim as he welcomed the detainees in a floodlit ceremony at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington. He hailed their release as a potential breakthrough in relations between the longtime adversary nations.

He and Kim “will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!” he said of the summit later on Twitter. He told his rally crowd, “I think it’s going to be a very big success.”

Kim has suspended nuclear and missile tests and put his nuclear program up for negotiation, but questions remain about how serious his offer is and what disarmament steps he would be willing to take. The White House has said withdrawal of thousands of U.S. troops from South Korea is “not on the table.”

Long before dawn Thursday, with the former detainees by his side on the air base tarmac, Trump said it was a “great honor” to welcome them back to the U.S. but “the true honor is going to be if we have a victory in getting rid of nuclear weapons.”

The ceremony, which also featured a giant American flag suspended between the ladders of two firetrucks, emphasized Trump’s penchant for the dramatic as he raised expectations for the summit. And it underscored how closely the fate of his foreign policy agenda is being tied to the North Korean negotiations.

He had wanted to hold the summit in the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas but yielded to the concerns of officials who thought a DMZ meeting would focus attention on relations between the North and South rather than the nuclear question.

Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, other top officials and first lady Melania joined the president for the air base celebration. The former detainees – Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak Song and Tony Kim – had been released Wednesday at the end of Pompeo’s visit to North Korea.

They appeared tired but in good spirits, flashing peace signs as they emerged from the aircraft. One said through a translator, “It’s like a dream; we are very, very happy.” They later gave the president a round of applause.

Pence said Pompeo had told him that at a refueling stop in Anchorage, “one of the detainees asked to go outside the plane because he hadn’t seen daylight in a very long time.” The men were taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for evaluation before being reunited with their families.

Trump thanked North Korean leader Kim for releasing the Americans and said, “I really think he wants to do something” on denuclearization.